What you think you are looking at is an AC Shelby Cobra. One of the most easily recognizable and most rare cars on the planet, the car was conceived by the automotive legend Carrol Shelby. Only about 330 were made, causing the original car to now sell upwards of $250,000 and sometimes more. However, what you are really looking at is a kit car. Now while the true Cobra aficionados gloat about certain features almost invisible to the naked eye that made this car “obviously” not a Cobra, most simply saw it as a truly iconic car that they thought was built by the hands of specialists in a bright, well-lit warehouse filled with cars, parts, and the stuff of car guy dreams. Instead, it was probably built in a dim, two-car garage covered with racing posters, oil all over the floor, opened boxes and by a man wearing what used to be, a white shirt.
Being a car enthusiast isn’t easy. While we may spend hours of our day drooling over $300,000 Lamborghinis and half-million dollar vintage Ferraris and Alfas, most don’t have $300,000 to $500,000 to put into them, let alone afford the insurance. So the question has long been asked: If one really wants to have a Ferrari or Lamborghini but can’t afford to buy the real car, how can they still acquire one?
Well the answer has been around for quite some time. Kit cars have been around since the 1950s and were made by people primarily so that they could own the cars that they so longed to have. The most popular kit cars that were introduced were the top sports cars on the market — a la the Porsche’s, the Ferrari’s, the Lamborghini’s, etc.
Now I know what you’re thinking. This is all nice history, but why should I care? Well, as gearheads, we also have a deep, insatiable desire to be around cars. And there is no closer experience of being with a car than to work on one by yourself, especially build one by yourself. And if you don’t have the time or passion to build one yourself, you can always hire someone to build it for you, but what fun is that?
All gearheads must own a kit car one day. They must build it either by themselves or with fellow car enthusiast friends. If you ask why then you should ask yourself why you should drool over amazing sports and supercars and envy and loathe the ones that can afford to buy one. Instead, you can decide to put a few thousand into a replica that’s only different under the hood and in the suspension. However, most average people will see the car as what it appears to be, what it replicates.
If you want to take a different route and not buy a Porsche 911 Carrera RS replica and instead want a proper track car that you can thrash around circuits on Saturdays, you can always buy track-day kit cars. These cars are fun and lightweight, depending on how you build them of course.
One of the most popular track day kits are the Lotus 7 replicas, which one should easily recognize as being a Caterham 7. However that’s not where it ends. There are hundreds of other track day kit cars that can be equipped with quality suspensions, and furthermore, can be fitted with some pretty powerful engines.
However, it all boils down to the fact that an average gearhead can’t afford a supercar, sportscar, or race car. So, they’ll just have to get the next best thing — the kit car. Buy one, build one, and enjoy your new “classic sports car.” #DIY – B.C.